The Wildgoose Chase

I met Chelsea Pensioner Walter Wildgoose in 1977 when he was 87 and I was 26. Through a series of letters written over the last year of his life, he passed along his life story - the workhouse children's home, a life in the British Army witnessing the opening battles of World War I and life in India, a remarkable family surviving the bombs of World War II London. This blog will document my research and progress on the novel I'm writing about this amazing man.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Transportation questions

Can anyone help me with answers to the following questions concerning transportation in the 1890s?

Would the Wildgoose family (travelling from India to England) have docked at Portsmouth or Southampton?

How long did it take to travel by sea from India to England at the time? (3 weeks? a month? longer?)

How long did it take to travel from Portsmouth or Southamption to Folkestone via rail? (2 hours? 6 hours?)

Would the baggage (I'm assuming several trunks of household goods, etc.) have travelled on the same train as the family to Folkestone, or would it have been shipped another way?

If you can shed some light on any of the above, or know a good resource, let me know. Thanks!

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posted by MaryB @ 1:33 PM  


  • At 2:42 PM , Blogger Peter (the other) said...

    Hey Mary,
    You might raise your question at the yahoo group "ships and the sea". There are a lot of historical UK type folk there, who love to be of help.

    In 1989 I had a flat in St. George's Square in Pinlico. I used to walk by the Royal Hospital all the time (with the old guys walking about). And I would see Jerome K. Jerome's plaque on the building across the street on the way to Chelsea bridge.

  • At 2:47 PM , Blogger Walker said...

    I would have thought it would be worth typing 'shipping lines' + '19th century' into Google - though I realise you may already have done this. Similarly 'railway times' and '19th century'.

    I've just tried it with the first pair of phrases and all sorts of stuff has come up.

    If you're stuck as regards the rail times let me know - I know someone who is a very avid railway ticket collector and he may be able to help.

    Somewhere amongst my family papers I have a letter describing how some of my distant relatives - by the name of 'Bowman' not Wildgoose' - travelled from Derbyshire to the US in the 18th or 19th century.

    On TV this evening three British comedians are tracing the journey made by Three Men in a Boat.

    As usual I digress !

  • At 3:24 PM , Blogger MaryB said...

    Peter, thanks for the "ships and the sea" tip - I should've known you'd be a resource on that, with the posts you put out on ships (in addition to music). And, Lord, all sorts of connections there - Royal Hospital and Jerome K. Jerome!

    Charlie - I've tried several iterations of ships/trains/schedules to no avail, but I'll use yours and see what I get. And I posted about the newest BBC version of "Three Men in a Boat" on my other blog. Let me know how it was, since it'll probably never see the light of day here. I am a huge "Three Men" fan.

    Thanks for your help, guys!

  • At 6:19 PM , Blogger PT said...


    Brunel University would appear to have rail timetables from the period, which would help answer your disembarkation to Folkestone question:

    I *think* that the Hampshire south-coast and Kent were served by different rail companies at the time, so they would probably have had to go up to London (via Waterloo) and then down to Folkestone from London Bridge.

  • At 8:42 PM , Blogger MaryB said...

    Thanks for the tip, Pete. You may be right about having to go into London to get to Folkestone. I'll check out the link.


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